Tuesday, August 4, 2015

News U Wish to Read - 4th August 2015

Tuesday,  4th August 2015

Note: News U Wish to Read is a daily press review compiled and only covers articles published in the press, in the UAE, India and world around. Its purpose is to keep us informed of important news items which we all wish to not miss. Enjoy reading the below news items and links. More sections will come as it takes shape and interest. Your response to this initiative is highly appreciated.


Masdar Institute and MIT collaborate on energy storage system

Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Institute is working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop an advanced energy storage system with plans to demonstrate the technology by early 2017. Masdar said the Redox Flow Batteries (RFBs) would bolster renewable energy projects in the UAE, and the technology would be significantly cheaper than the types of batteries in use currently. The RFBs would better store electrical energy as chemical energy and convert it back into electrical energy when needed. One of the main challenges facing the renewable energy sector is storing wind and solar energy. Both energy forms are intermittent, or only available at certain times. Presently, expensive fuel cells are mainly used for storage and are uneconomical for many projects. Should its energy storage system be a success, it would advance the UAE’s standing in the global energy storage market, which is expected to reach US$113.5 billion in the next two years.

Published: 3rd August 2015

Iran to throw the switch on energy projects after sanctions end
The National

The number of energy projects in Iran could double over five years to nearly 400 once sanctions are gradually lifted, according to Meed Projects. There are 197 energy projects – ranging from oil and gas to petrochemicals and utilities – under construction or planned representing a US$167 billion opportunity for regional and international companies, according to data from the projects tracking service. The opportunities will only increase as new projects are added. For the first time in a decade, international companies are close to re-establishing business relations with Iran, with the energy sector set to play a major role in the country’s revitalisation. The Dubai-based power provider Full Power Solutions expects its Iranian manufacturing arm, Electro Kavir, to ramp up production once sanctions are removed.

Published: 3rd August 2015

Adnoc to use minor profit for expansion
Khaleej Times

The UAE has the most competitive oil prices even though they have been deregulated, the chief executive officer of Adnoc Distribution said. "Although the fuel prices have been deregulated, we still maintain one of the most competitive prices in the region and the world at large, when factoring in the per capita spend on fuel in comparison to the average income of individuals," Abdulla Salem Al Dhaheri said. "This can be largely attributed to the solid economic foundations established by our wise leadership and its directives to provide a competitive environment with zero taxes on income and expenditure making the UAE module unique and attractive," he added. Al Dhaheri said "when setting the new prices, we have considered international prices as the benchmark and include an added operation cost and minor profit margin". The new direction of deregulating prices will allow Adnoc Distribution to leverage its expansion plans to meet the rising demand for petroleum and allied products by the public in line with the sustained urban growth the UAE is witnessing across all regions, he said. The decision will also allow Adnoc Distribution to enhance the quality of products and services and deliver an improved customer experience via its service centres in the long-term. Al Dhaheri said that given the prevailing global prices, it was a real challenge for Adnoc Distribution to cut down diesel prices that have been reduced by 29 per cent. The decision to reduce diesel prices has been taken in public interest with the aim of supporting the national economy and ensuring its global competitiveness.

Published: 29th July 2015

Iran energy projects market worth more than $160bn
Gulf News

The country can increase oil production by 500,000 barrels a day in a week after sanctions end, Iran’s oil minister says. The Iranian energy projects market represents a $167 billion (Dh613 billion) opportunity for regional and international companies as the Islamic republic prepares for the lifting of sanctions. According to the latest data from Dubai based MEED Projects, an online projects tracking service, there are 197 individual energy (oil, gas, petrochemical, industry and utilities) projects either planned or under way in Iran, a number that could well double as sanctions are gradually lifted.
The largest single future project in the Iranian energy sector is the estimated $4.5 billion Kish Gas Development, followed by the $3.2 billion Anahita oil refinery in Western Iran. Another major future projects include the $3 billion Nalco aluminium complex and the $2.5 billion Jask oil terminal project.

Gas and oil reserves

“With a GDP of some $400 billion, a population of close to 80 million, and the world’s third largest gas and fourth largest oil reserves, Iran has long represented an excellent projects opportunity,” says Ed James, Director of Content & Analysis at MEED Projects. “However, it is only now with the impending lifting of sanctions that international companies — for the first time in a decade — have the opportunity to invest in the local projects market.”

Published: 2nd August 2015

Morocco opts for a bit of sun with new solar programme
The National

Morocco has announced a new solar programme with the first phase totalling 25 megawatts, but the small size could deter some large companies from investing. “The problem is that in terms of capacity, it’s only of interest for some bidders,” said Boris Martor, the head of the Africa division at Eversheds. The UK law firm advises its clients on renewable energy projects throughout the region. Mr Martor noted that feasibility-study, development and negotiation costs were the same regardless of scale. The first phase of the three-phase Tafilalet solar photovoltaic project will total 25MW, a small size compared to other solar projects in Morocco totalling more than 100MW each. “[Developers] have to find financing for a project that might be smaller, but in terms of development, would cost the same as a larger project,” he said. The World Bank and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development will provide financing, but Mr Martor said that at this stage it was still unclear if the organisations would finance the first phase in its entirety, expected to total US$150 million.

Published: 30th July 2015

China moves to make the grade as a setter of oil price
The National

Talking about a 19th-century political dispute, the British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston said: “Only three people have ever understood the business – one is dead, one has gone mad and I have forgotten.”  His words seem equally fitting to describe the arcane technicalities of pricing crude oil. Yet the way oil is priced is set for a major shake-up – and the Arabian Gulf’s leading oil exporters will be affected. It is in their grasp to shape this change, or to be passive bystanders. The change in crude pricing is led, as in so many other energy affairs these days, by Asia’s rising demand – and, in particular, the growing heft of China. In October 2014 and again in April this year, Chinese traders were extremely active in buying up grades of Middle East crude that are used to set prices. They might have had valid needs for the oil, but it is at least as likely that they wanted to support “paper” – purely financial – trading positions. International crude has long been priced by reference to three grades: West Texas Intermediate (WTI) from the US, Brent from the UK’s North Sea and Dubai. WTI and Brent are traded on regulated futures exchanges, making the market transparent and highly liquid. It has become increasingly clear, though, that these benchmarks have problems. Due to the expansion of US shale oil production, and that country’s ban on exports, WTI has become a landlocked crude whose value is at times well below that of comparable international crudes. Production from Brent is declining, and more fields have to be added to the basket of valid supply sources, but it is still vulnerable to “squeezes” by traders who can buy up cargoes to corner the market, and to random factors such as bad weather, technical glitches, strikes and even anomalies of South Korean taxation. Most importantly, both Brent and WTI are light, sweet (low sulphur) crudes, very different from the heavier, sour (high sulphur) crudes produced in the Middle East that are now the dominant diet for Asian refineries. The Dubai Mercantile Exchange (DME) has consequently positioned its Dubai-Oman crude contract as a possible Middle East-Asian counterpart to Brent and WTI. But it has still not attracted the same levels of interest and liquidity as its older rivals. Apart from Dubai and Oman, Middle East producers still price most of their crude using opaque assessments of the market by specialist reporting agencies. So now China has stepped forward. The Shanghai International Energy Exchange is launching its own crude oil contract – where the buyers, not the sellers, would be the key players. Shanghai’s contract has major problems – in particular, neither Kuwait nor Saudi Arabia have opted to support it, and it is denominated not in dollars like the Brent, WTI and DME contracts, but in yuan (which is non-convertible, and exposes traders to currency risk). Most of all, it will be dominated, at least at first, by the big Chinese traders, notably Unipec (Sinopec’s trading arm) and Chinaoil (the subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corporation). Although the market is slowly opening up, few other companies have the right to import crude oil into China. Still, China is too big to ignore. And as a major buyer, its interest would naturally be in the direction of lower prices. As recent stock market intervention suggests, it is hardly inconceivable that the Chinese government would take an interest in a contract for such a strategic commodity. The DME and Shanghai contracts are not incompatible – indeed, the two exchanges have signed an agreement to cooperate. But if Middle East countries, presumably with Opec as the key venue, do not decide a common front on pricing their oil, they risk being picked off individually, and drawn inescapably into using the Chinese exchange. On this esoteric formula rides billions of dollars.

Published: 2nd August 2015

Other Sectors

Cheaper fuel lifts Indian carriers on efficiency drive

India’s airlines are showing signs of improvement in their latest results, helped by lower oil prices and efforts to boost their performance. SpiceJet on Tuesday reported a net profit of 718 million rupees (Dh41.2m) in the quarter between April and June compared to a loss of 1.24 billion rupees in the same period a year earlier. This was driven by lower fuel prices and more efficient use of the airline’s fleet. Mahesh Sharma, the minister of state for civil aviation, a day earlier revealed that Air India had reduced its net losses to 55.47bn rupees in the last financial year to the end of March compared to 75.59bn rupees in the financial year of 2011 to 2012, helped by improvements in seat factors and on-time performance. Edelweiss Securities, based in Mumbai, has predicted a profit of 343m rupees for Jet Airways in the quarter to the end of June compared to a loss of 2.17bn rupees a year earlier. “The domestic aviation industry has seen strong growth in this quarter,” Edelweiss said. “In line, we expect Jet Airways to report a 28 per cent year-on-year growth in passengers. The benefit of lower fuel costs will reflect in this quarter also.” Airline losses in India could reduce by 40 per cent this year, according to Capa.

Published: 1st August 2015

Chinese smartphone makers to set up factories in India

Smartphone makers based in China are leading the way with plans to set up manufacturing facilities in India. The Indian government this month cleared a proposal for Huawei Technologies, one of China’s biggest telecoms companies, to set up a manufacturing unit in Tamil Nadu, south India. Foxconn, the Taiwanese company which manufactures Apple’s iPhone in China, last week revealed plans to create 10 to 12 factories and up to 1 million jobs in India by 2020. There is a push by Narendra Modi’s government to transform India into a manufacturing powerhouse, which would involve it competing with countries such as China. Xiaomi, China’s largest smartphone manufacturer, also plans to produce phones in India.  Smartphone growth has shifted from China to India, according to a recent report by HSBC. “As the domestic market has become saturated, Chinese brands have been trying to expand overseas,” it said.

Published: 18th July 2015

Make in India: Sony Corp inks pact to manufacture Bravia line of TVs at Foxconn’s plant near Chennai
The Economic Times

Sony Corp is back to manufacturing in India after more than a decade. The Japanese consumer electronics major has entered into an agreement to manufacture its Bravia line of televisions at Taiwanese contract manufacturer major Foxconn's plant near Chennai. It is also evaluating the possibility of making smartphones in the country and may eventually set up its own plant in India, Sony India managing director Kenichiro Hibi said. "The government's 'Make in India' policy and the growing importance of India for Sony worldwide has accelerated our decision to manufacture in India once again," Hibi told ET. "Local production will help us to be more competitive, lower costs and allow faster turnaround time to launch newer models," he said.

Published: 4th August 2015

Why InMobi may be India's most innovative company
The Economic Times

"That has been one of the keys to our growth — making sure we get the right people in from the beginning. If you get that right, you hire amazing people, they'll be fine, and they'll do amazing things". Till 2012, it wasn't as if Naveen Tewari and the three other cofounders weren't signing on the right people for the eight-year-young InMobi. It's just that leading them was now becoming cumbersome, as the numbers got larger. The quartet were wrapped up in scaling what they claim is today the world's largest and most powerful independent mobile advertising platform. In four months — between April and July, 2012 — the company's employee base surged from 200 to 900. "We hired people to be on a massive growth trajectory," recalls 37-year-old Tewari.

Published: 2nd August 2015

Politics & Economy

Low oil prices hit UAE job growth, new report shows
The National

The signs of a slowing job market in the UAE because of falling oil prices have started to appear. A report from the recruiting company Morgan McKinley yesterday showed that professional hirings fell by 1 per cent in the second quarter to 8,109 compared with 8,213 in the first three months of the year. “The oil price went back up to $60 per barrel towards the end of the quarter, but it needs to go up by a further $5-$10 a barrel to make new drilling and exploration projects viable,” said Trefor Murphy, the managing director for the Middle East and North Africa at Morgan McKinley, in the report. Brent oil price closed on Friday 2 per cent lower at US$52.21 per barrel, which is a more than 50 per cent drop since peaking at $115 in June last year. An oil supply glut, weaker demand in Asia and Europe and a strong dollar have pushed oil prices lower this year.

Published: 2nd August 2015

Can penny stocks make you rich?
The Economic Times

Akshat Shah doesn't know whether he should be kicking himself or feeling relieved. Kicking himself because one of the stocks this Ahmedabad-based finance professional was tracking since 2014 has risen 200% in the past seven months.  After hitting a 52-week low of Rs 1.15 in December 2014, the share price of Karuturi GlobalBSE 6.13 % shot up to its 52-week high of Rs 4.95 last week. And feeling relieved because most of the other penny stocks on his radar have slipped 60-70% in the past seven months. After hitting a 52-week low of Rs 1.15 in December 2014, the share price of Karuturi GlobalBSE 6.13 % shot up to its 52-week high of Rs 4.95 last week. And feeling relieved because most of the other penny stocks on his radar have slipped 60-70% in the past 12 months.

Published: 3rd August 2015

Seven rules for investing in penny stocks
The Economic Times

Despite the risks, small investors are putting big money in low-priced penny stocks. They are lured by the fantastic returns that some stocks have delivered in the past few months. If you also want to invest in this risky segment of the market, keep a few rules in mind.

Published: 3rd August 2015

Community, Environment & Society

How UAE firms deal with grief in the workplace

Managers with teams are normally taught soft skills like negotiation, time management or coaching – but not how to deal with a grieving member of staff, one of the most sensitive situations they are ever likely to encounter. “The role of the manager and HR is wider in the UAE than in the West; they are looking after people who are away from family and the first call often comes into the employer,” says Patricia O’Sullivan, the 51-year-old owner of ProTraining. The 12-year-old UAE training company has this year started a one-day workshop for Managing Grief in the Workplace. The course has run twice so far this year and is next scheduled for September 1 in Abu Dhabi.

Published: 2nd August 2015.

Humility a quality to be cherished

he forum’s compère had clearly done her research, sharing details of the accomplished leader who was to be the next speaker on stage. Facts flowed about measurable achievements while anecdotes added a unique flavour. Upon its completion and with the audience’s curiosity piqued, the leader stepped on to the stage saying how the introduction was so interesting, that for a while she was wondering who was being introduced.  Such humility is evident in many great leaders, when the level of consideration for one’s own impact has reduced importance or significance, with judgment never being clouded by position. During that forum, I pondered one question: with all those credits to her name, what made that leader so humble? Great leaders facilitate change in trusted and trusting environments, and to cultivate trust the show must be about “us”, not “me”.

Published: 2nd August 2015.


How to see if your emails are being tracked in Gmail before opening them
The Economic Times

You might not realize it, but there are now email-tracking tools that make it easy for people to see when you open an email, what you click, and where you're located. "Emails appear no different to your contacts, but you get data when, where, and how a contact interacts with your message," says a cheery video advertising Bananatag, an email-tracking service for Gmail designed for job seekers, advertisers, and those working in public relations. In response, a handy new tool called Ugly Email shows you when your emails in Gmail are being tracked, and it starts working before you click anything. When Ugly Email is installed, a tiny little eye symbol appears next to any email in an inbox that is being tracked by tools like Bananatag, Streak, or Yesware.

Published: 3rd August 2015


Synthesis, not analysis, is the future
The Hindu

Prof. Sanjay Dhande, former Director of IIT Kanpur and the Founder-Director of the Mahindra Ecole Centrale, speaks to BINCY MATHEW about training engineers in a holistic manner.  Please tell us about the vision of the Mahindra Ecole Centrale College of Engineering? At MEC, “Our Vision is to train engineers, both men and women, to be entrepreneurial and innovative as well as technically trained, so that they are capable of meeting the greatest challenges of their era, globally.”

Published: 1st August 2015

Sports – Campaign PASS

Campaign PASS (Promote All Sports Simultaneously) is an initiative started through my blog to promote all sports(other than cricket – which gets lot of attention) and sports personnel associated to give them more exposure.

Target must be to fulfill potential: Geet Sethi
The Times of India

Ace cueist Geet Sethi suggested that OGQ allowed senior elite athletes to make their own decisions regarding their careers and goals. "The targets for athletes are that they need to fulfill their potential. They are senior athletes and they have their own targets so I don't think it's for us to define them," the 54-year-old said.  "For us the targets are that there should be no requirements of theirs that remains unfulfilled," the multiple world champion explained. "A lot is being done by the government and sports ministry. If there is a small little gap, we come in and fill it," he added.

Published: 3rd August 2015

Hope you enjoyed reading the above news items and links. More sections will come as it take shape and interest. Your response to this initiative is highly appreciated.


Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi

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